Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bull Rush

My latest edition of Bull Rush is up at joebucsfan. This time I talk about how we can maximize the abilities of our newly drafted defensive tackles, Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, along with second year guy Roy Miller. Go check it out and let me know what you think!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Breaking Down The Bucs' Draft

Grading a team's draft before any of the guys they selected has played a single down for them is always tricky. Some guys end up over achieving and of course some guys end up underachieving. They you have the guys who have a great first year and then fall off after that (*cough* Clayton *cough*). So take the rest of this post with a grain of salt.

I give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft a C+. I realize that some people have given them much higher grades and I respect many of those who have done so but I have straight forward reasons why I feel this way and I intend to explain them. Some people will agree, some won't but I think everyone will at least see where I'm coming from.

First of all individually I like every guy we drafted. Here's the full list.

1st round Gerald McCoy

2nd round Brian Price

2nd round Arrelious Benn

3rd round Myron Lewis

4th round Mike Williams

6th round Brent Bowden

7th round Cody Grimm

7th round Dekoda Watson

7th round Erik Lorig

In a vacuum I like each and every guy on that list. A LOT. Every draft pick played for a big school in a big conference and just about each and every one of them is a "safe" pick.

Unfortunately you don't draft in a vacuum, and like I mentioned the other day, the Bucs have specific needs that had to be addressed through the draft due to their aversion to being active in free agency this year. There was a chance, albeit a slim one, that they could have pulled such a feat off. However one pick in particular all but guaranteed that they wouldn't.

The 2nd round selection of Brian Price just doesn't make any sense to me at all. I know that the media is reporting that the Bucs are saying they planned to take him all alone to pair him with Gerald McCoy but I just don't believe it. OF COURSE the Bucs are going to say they planned it from the beginning lest they look incompetent, but I believe that Price just happened to be the highest guy on their board so they took him instead of stretching for need. Now in another year, in another situation, that would be perfectly fine and preferred in fact. But you can't draft best available when your team has as many needs as ours does. By taking Price with our first pick in the 2nd round the Bucs made an on the field error in addition to a draft strategy error. Lets talk about each.

First we will start off with the on the field implications. GM Mark Dominik explained why they took Price in addition to McCoy this way:

Dominik said the idea of drafting both McCoy and Price and teaming them with Miller in a three-man rotation was something he envisioned while preparing for the draft.

"We want to get back to what we did in the past," he said. "We've had a lot of success here over the years rotating our defensive lineman and (beating) the heat that way."

Here's the thing, I am sure Brian Price CAN play nosetackle, BUT he is much better suited to be an undertackle (3 technique). Make no mistake about it, I have been very high on Price, and in my own alternate universe we chose Eric Berry with the 3rd pick in the first round then we selected Brian Price to be our 3 technique. So my question is why would you get a guy that high who is pretty much the same player that you took in the first round if all you are going to do is make him take on double teams most of the day on Sundays? Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should and having Price at nosetackle will be wasting his pass rush ability on early downs. Sure he might be able to rush out of a 3 technique on 3rd downs but that's just a maybe. And lets get one thing straight, Price WILL be our starting nose tackle. Remember we had to hit homeruns this year with the draft or people are going to have to walk the plank no matter what. So what does that mean for Roy Miller?

I suppose that maybe the Bucs aren't as high on Miller as they once were but lets not forget that he himself was a 3rd round pick just last year. And besides that nothing that the Bucs have said publicly this off season to this point would give anyone reason to believe that Miller was disappointing them. That is until they drafted a guy in the 2nd round to take his job. Does this mean that Miller will now be labeled a bust? I guess only time will tell.

My biggest question is this. How exactly is this "rotation" supposed to work? Last year Chris Hovan and Ryan Sims started and then Miller would spell each of them in the rotation. It was relatively simple because we played left and right defensive tackles last season rather than an undertackle and nosetackle that flip sides according to the call and the offensive formation. So now when Miller comes in to spell Price I would assume that he would be at nose and McCoy would stay at 3 technique. But what happens when Miller spells McCoy? Does Price then go to undertackle and Miller strictly plays nose? Or will Miller play 3 technique so Price can continue to develop as a nosetackle?

This may seem like a trivial line of questioning but it absolutely is not. Depending upon how the rotation goes Price may actually get some time in at undertackle where he can utilize his pass rushing skills more or he may be relegated to strictly playing nosetackle. And I am of mixed emotions about the former. I mean I want us to have the most dominant pass rush possible at all times, but with nose tackle being a new position for Price and one of the hardest positions technique and blocking scheme recongnition wise for guys to adapt to, do we really want Price to be playing anything but the position he starts at? My fear is that we end up with 3 pretty good undertackles and 2 shitty to average nosetackles. As I have said before, our nosetackle position is a big factor in stopping the run. If we don't get consistently good play there, we won't have to worry about our pass rush because teams will just run it down our damn throats.....again.

There is one last thing that I feel compelled to point out. What happens if it turns out that Price is a better pass rusher than McCoy, at least initially? It may just be that Price picks up the pro game quicker than McCoy and starts off stronger in terms of getting pressure on the quarterback. How long would the Bucs resist the temptation to then either move McCoy over to nose or bench him altogether? Well I would say benching him is not an option, but still there is that possibility. Probably a bigger possibility than most think.

The other thing about picking Price at 35 is that it showed poor draft strategy in my opinion. I know hindsight is always 20/20 but I again feel the need to remind the reader how much the Buccaneers themselves hyped up this draft and promised fans that even though they weren't signing many free agents, the draft picks would more than make up for that. I admit that I wasn't sure that Price would fall all the way to the 2nd round but look at the teams picking behind us at #35.

(36) Chiefs
(37) Eagles
(38) Browns
(39) Raiders
(40) Dolphins
(41) Bills

Notice anything? All but one of those teams who chose between our pick at #35 and our pick at #42 run a 3-4 scheme which isn't really much of a fit for Brian Price. On the other hand just about every team in the interim needed a wide receiver. I am not saying we definitely had to take Arrelious Benn at #35 or that Price would have definitely fallen to us at #42 if we had. What I am saying is that it was more likely than the opposite scenario which was actually our reality when we picked Price first then had to spend a 5th round pick just to move up 3 spaces and pick Benn.

This may seem like a small thing but with as many holes as we have on our team right now we can't afford to deal away a draft pick that might actually have starting potential or at least be a major contributor. In the 5th round we might have been able to pick either Kam Chancellor or Larry Assante, two safeties who both went in that round and two guys who would be in the mix to start or play quite a bit for us at strong safety. Or maybe we go for Cam Thomas or Art Jones to give us another defensive tackle to add to the mix. After all if there is to be a 3 man rotation, what happens if one of the 3 gets hurt? Or maybe we could have gone offense and gotten Riley Cooper to give Josh Freeman another target to throw to while putting a little local flavor on the roster as well. Don't for one second believe that having players on the roster from the big in-state college teams wouldn't help with attendance.

My feeling is that instead of trading away a 5th rounder to move up to get Benn we could have possibly been gaining draft picks from a 3-4 team that wanted to move up to get offensive weapon Dexter McCluster who ended up going at #36 or outside rush linebacker Sergio Kindle who ended up going at #43. Worst case scenario we just stand pat, pick Benn at #35 and if by chance Price is taken in the intervening 7 picks then you turn to defensive tackle Lamarr Houston out of Texas who also had a first round grade and does a lot of the same things that Price does. Those are the kinds of things that teams that are considered great at the draft do. They make moves to continue to acquire picks rather than spend them to move up and in the end they have a quality draft with a lot of picks and usually some extra picks for future drafts as well.

Instead of those scenarios playing out we were stuck with not having a 5th round pick for this year's draft. That's HUGE when we haven't been signing free agents.

I would also knock the Bucs for taking a punter with our lone 6th round pick. Again I like Brent Bowden as a player and I know the importance of special teams play. But with a team in need of so many upgrades, is punter really our most pressing need at that point? Keep in mind that defensive end Greg Hardy was still sitting there at that point. Wide receiver Carlton Mitchell from USF is still sitting there at that point. Jonathan Dwyer, Charles Scott, Trindon Holliday all still sitting there. And we go.....punter.

Alrighty then.

And since we aren't drafting in a vacuum lets also look around our own division.

Do you think our draft is better than the Saints?

How about the Falcons?

What about the Panthers?

These teams all finished in front of us last year and they all also seemed to plug some of the biggest holes on their team in this draft. Of course they did this in addition to, and not instead of, being active in free agency as well.

Where is the big blocking tight end we are going to need to help get our running game going? Where is the safety, no offense to Cody Grimm, that will push Tanard Jackson, Sabby Piscitelli, and Sean Jones for a starting spot? Where is the upgrade at left defensive end? Where is the depth at middle linebacker pushing Ruud for a starting spot either this year or next?

Did we fill some of our holes?

Without a doubt we did.

I feel great about Benn and Mike Williams on offense. Both guys are tall, physical receivers who will go up and get the ball in traffic and have speed to stretch opposing defenses. Having seen Mike Williams torch USF repeatedly even when it was obvious that he was pretty much the only offensive weapon that Syracuse had and against true double coverage on almost every play, I am a big believer in his abilities. I am still somewhat wary of his quitting on the team but on the other hand I believe that the Bucs organization has a close enough relationship with Syracuse's coach, Doug Marrone, that if his actions were a deal breaker we never would have taken him. If we can give Freeman enough time, I think those two guys will help put some pop back in our offense and actually begin to strike fear in opposing secondaries.

I also like McCoy, Price and Myron Lewis a lot individually if not collectively. I think Lewis is going to be a physical corner somewhat in the same mold of Aqib Talib and that he will eventually transition into the role in nickel that Ronde has played for our defense for over a decade now. Early downs aside, I do feel like Price and McCoy will at some point in the season give teams fits on 3rd downs with their pass rush and help to make our defensive ends' pass rush better as well with their push, keeping opposing quarterbacks from stepping up in the pocket to avoid the ends' speed rushes.

I'm even excited about Cody Grimm and Dekoda Watson on special teams and I have heard that Erik Lorig will be a very hard worker on the defensive line and on special teams as well.

What it comes down to for me is that we didn't do enough with the picks that we had and that leaves us with a few too many question marks in my book.

I will say that this grade is definitely still in flux. In the fall the players' production could push it up or down. Also if the Bucs finally decide to bring in a few free agents to cover the spots we didn't get to in the draft, that could push it up as well. But it also could go in the other direction. If Price doesn't transition well as a nosetackle. If Williams doesn't make a major contribution this year. If Lewis doesn't end up starting at nickleback this grade, like our season, will likely be going down.

Keep in mind that its definitely still early, but for me this is how we look on paper. I am sure some folks will say I'm too negative while others will be apoplectic that I'm even this positive. Can't help it folks, I tell it like it is and how it comes together in my own mind. In the end its still just a prediction/projection, nothing more and nothing less. Its up to you whether you buy it or not.

It is what it is.

P.S. When we won the Superbowl we had a stacked secondary with John Lynch, Dexter Jackson, Dwight Smith, Ronde Barber, and Brian Kelly making big time contributions.

Our starting nosetackle on the other hand was Chuck Darby.

Just sayin....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Schedule And Totally Innappropriate and Worthless Speculation: Let's Play!

The NFL finally released the schedules for all 32 teams yesterday and of course I had to check out the Buccaneers first. They have a very interesting schedule at first glance, early off week, no prime time games, but on paper it at least seems like they will have an easier go of it than they did last year. Take a look.

Sun. Sept. 12 CLEVELAND 1:00 p.m. CBS
Sun. Sept. 19 at Carolina 1:00 p.m. FOX
Sun. Sept. 26 PITTSBURGH 1:00 p.m. CBS
Sun. Oct. 3 -- bye week --
Sun. Oct. 10 at Cincinnati 1:00 p.m. FOX
Sun. Oct. 17 NEW ORLEANS 1:00 p.m. FOX
Sun. Oct. 24 ST. LOUIS 1:00 p.m. FOX
Sun. Oct. 31 at Arizona 4:15 p.m. FOX
Sun. Nov. 7 at Atlanta 1:00 p.m. FOX
Sun. Nov. 14 CAROLINA 1:00 p.m. FOX
Sun. Nov. 21 at San Francisco 4:05 p.m.* FOX
Sun. Nov. 28 at Baltimore 1:00 p.m.* FOX
Sun. Dec. 5 ATLANTA 1:00 p.m.* FOX
Sun. Dec. 12 at Washington 1:00 p.m.* FOX
Sun. Dec. 19 DETROIT 1:00 p.m.* FOX
Sun. Dec. 26 SEATTLE 1:00 p.m.* FOX
Sun. Jan. 2 at New Orleans 1:00 p.m.* FOX

Now if you have been paying attention for any amount of time, you know that I don't really believe in making predictions about our record in the fall before we have even gone through with the draft. But I figure just for the hell of it I figured why not take it to my readers and ask them to do two things.

1. Make a prediction our record for next year.

2. List the games you see as wins right now.

Again, I want to reiterate that this is basically unreliable. Nobody knows who is going to be great and who is going to suck right now this early in the off season. I mean with injuries, cuts, trades, draft picks etc you just never know and thats why you play the games. But if you are fiending for football like I am its at least an interesting thought experiment because you can't just pull a record out ya ass, you have to actually justify it by saying which games you thing we may win and by the same token which teams on our schedule that at this point you consider better than us.

I'll start it off.

I have us at 6-10. Wins are Cleveland, Pittsburgh (If no Big Ben), St. Louis, Carolina at home, Detroit and Seattle.

Your turn...

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Curious Case Of The Redskins' Defense

In the last few months the Washington Redskins have made a lot of noise. They hired a future Hall Of Fame guy in former Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan. They signed several big name former stars like Larry Johnson. They executed a blockbuster trade inside their own division for future Hall Of Fame quarterback Donovan McNabb and they own the 4th pick in this year's NFL Draft.

But not all of the noise has been positive. The guy they signed last year to be their franchise defensive player, Albert Haynesworth, has been in the news also for the wrong reasons. After signing a $100 million dollar contract last year and failing to live up to admittedly unreal expectations, Haynesworth came out and publicly disagreed with the Redskins' decision to switch to a 3-4 defense. Not only that, he vowed to stay away from voluntary activities and show up only to mandatory offseason practices, seemingly trying to force Washington to trade him.

Now there has been no shortage of sports pundits knocking him for this move. I admit its hard to feel empathy for a guy who just recently received an almost $20 million dollar roster bonus. But his point at the time is that he has never played nose tackle in a 3-4 and it wasn't something he felt comfortable trying to learn. I know most people would say for that amount of money he should be willing to learn how to drive the team bus. But considering the fact that the NFL truly IS a business there are also reasons to understand why he wasn't happy about the move. Yes he is getting paid an ungodly amount of money, but he also cares about his legacy. Just a few years ago he was being mentioned as a candidate for MVP of the whole league for his strong play with the Tennessee Titans and its highly likely that making a drastic move from a 3 technique to a head up nose tackle would further erode public opinion about his abilities.

I could go into a long dissertation about the pros and cons of him moving to nose tackle but that's not what this post is about. You see I happened to look at the Redskins' roster the other day and my interest was piqued. People have spent so much time knocking Haynesworth for his obstinacy and so much time focused on the holes that Washington needs to feel on their offensive line, that it seems nobody stopped to wonder just how switching to a 3-4 defense would affect a defense that was good enough to be ranked 10th in the league last year without much help from their offense.

Anthony Bryant

Phillip Daniels

Kedric Golston

Maake Kemoeatu

Anthony Montgomery

Greg Peterson

Are you familiar with any of the names on that list? Well if you are a Redskins fan you better get acquainted in a hurry because aside from Haynesworth those are ALL the guys on the current roster who are candidates to be the starting interior linemen in a 3-4 formation this year for the Redskins.

Know how many of them have played in a 3-4 defense in the last 3 years?


And through out their offseason spending spree the Redskins declined to being in even one guy who is experienced in playing in a 3-4 to at least help show the other guys the ropes.

To be sure it's not just a problem with the interior linemen. Two of the best performers last year for Washington, linebacker London Fletcher and defensive end Andre Carter, seemed to be poorly suited to a 3-4 defense. Yes, 2nd year player Brian Orakpo seems to be a perfect fit as a rush linebacker but as you look through the Redskins' roster who else seems to be a prototypical 3-4 defender?

But wait, its not just the players either.

Jim Haslett was hired to run the defense for Shanahan and as far as I can tell Haslett hasn't run a 3-4 defense since 1999 when he was the defensive coordinator for a Pittsburgh Steelers team that went 6-10. In the years since he has has stints as a defensive coordinator in both New Orleans and St Louis and in both of those stops he ran a 4-3. Now I'm not saying he can't do it, but its not exactly what you would think of as his forte.

So what gives?

Mike Shanahan never wasn't a 3-4 guy when he was a head coach out in Denver. His defenses consistently ran a 4-3 and generally were very good at it. I realize that lots of teams are transitioning to a 3-4 now for whatever reason but I would also remind people that both teams in this season's Superbowl ran a 4-3 and for that matter 3 of the final 4 teams ran a 4-3.

I readily admit that I personally prefer a 4-3 defense having played in that scheme most of my career, but by the same token I am a defensive scholar and with the right personnel I also know the havoc you can create with a 3-4. In this case however it would seem that the Redskins have round pieces that they are trying to stuff into square holes.
And lest you believe that the Redskins will use the draft to give their defense the extreme make over treatment, I would remind you that they only have 4 picks in the whole draft at the moment with no 2nd nor 3rd round pick at all.

At the moment Washington is in many ways blessed to have Haynesworth causing such a ruckus over playing nose tackle. It gives sports pundits a target to throw darts at and keeps them distracted. But what will happen after the draft is over and the smoke has cleared and Haynesworth is either traded or welcomed back into the fold? What happens when other people start noticing the obvious deficiencies I have just exposed? What happens if or when the Redskins take the field next year and instead of their offense being the weak link, its their once stout defense that can't stop anybody?

All I can say is stay tuned....

*Update: It turns out the Redskins made a big splash free agent signing yesterday signing former Ravens, Texans, Saints, Seahawks and Jets defensive lineman Howard Green to compete for the nose tackle position. FINALLY, a guy who has actually played in a 3-4, now the sky's the limit

If you aren't sure, yes that's sarcasm oozing through this update. You might think that the Redskins signing a guy to compete for a starting job off of a mini-camp tryout would be a HUGE red flag for the rest of the media to take notice of the state of their defense.

Guess we shall see...

Drafting Need Vs Best Available

One of the things that has been overlooked up until now is how the Bucs strategy (or lack their of) towards free agency will affect their approach during the draft. There are generally two schools of thought in draft war rooms. One the one hand you have teams who believe you draft for need, on the other hand you have teams that believe you always draft the next highest guy on your board regardless of position. Now there are drawbacks to both situations of course, but generally I side with the folks who draft the highest guy on the board barring a high first round pick. Even if you happen to already have an entrenched starter at the position where the next highest rated guy on your board is, it always seems to work out where you end up needing and using that draft pick. Take for instance the Carolina Panthers drafting Johnathan Stewart a couple of years back even though they already had a very good back in D'Angelo Williams. I don't think a lot of people understood the move at the time but it has certainly worked out well for them.

Now the major problem with drafting for need is that you end up reaching for guys at times and taking them higher than they should have ever gone. And chances are when you draft a guy higher than he should go, he won't perform to the expectations you normally associate with that draft position. There are certainly exceptions to that rule, but from my perspective you are almost setting those guys up for failure.

Unfortunately it seems that the Bucs by not being active in free agency have put themselves in a predicament where they HAVE to draft for need. Its bad enough that we already have a lot of holes on the team, but there are some positions where we are literally low on bodies even. We almost HAVE to draft a starting wide receiver sometime this weekend. I say almost because maybe a miracle will happen and Mike Clayton will all of a sudden turn into a world beater, or maybe Maurice Stovall will suddenly start channelling Randy Moss or maybe even the recently acquired Reggie Brown will look more like Reggie Wayne this season. Unfortunately none of those changes are likely. But what if the highest rated wide receivers are already off the board when we choose in the 2nd round?

Now I realize that not many people are promised a position on the team anyway but what about quarterbacks? What if Colt McCoy falls to us? Do we pass him up because we already have Freeman? Or is the best guy the best guy?

Is there a chance we draft a tight end high if we haven't yet drafted a defensive end or a cornerback even though we already have one of the best tight ends in the NFL with Kellen Winslow?

These are the questions Bucs fans may want to ask themselves as we head into this weekend. When you think about it, although people have their favorites for who we could draft at #3 the truth is all of the guys who have been mentioned there are pretty much can't miss prospects. Whether its Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Eric Berry, or Russell Okung I think any of those guys will play and play well for us. But its the draft picks from the 2nd round and lower that will end up being the backbone of our team next year and for years to come, especially with the dearth of free agent signings. So while its funny to debate those 1st round guys please keep an eye on the rest of our picks. In all likelihood they will make or break this draft and make or break Coach Morris and Mark Dominik.

It is what it is.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bull Rush

My latest edition of Bull Rush is up over at joebucsfan. I honestly believe its the best post I have written so far so please go check it out and leave a comment.

Moral Relativism

The folks over at joebucsfan have a post up going pretty hard at Brandon Marshall for being a "dirtbag" and cheering on the fact that the Bucs passed on him. Now everyone is entitled to their opinion and I certainly respect theirs, I found it pretty astounding that just a few days after upbraiding the Buccaneers for not trading for Santonio Holmes, a guy who has been in a lot of the same kind of trouble in the past as Marshall and is CURRENTLY being investigated for assault and is CURRENTLY suspended for the first 4 games next year. I am reprinting here the entire comment I just left on that post because I want to make it clear that in this particular case we have different opinions.

So let me see if I have this straight.

A couple days ago Joe was pissed that we didnt’ spend a 5th rounder on a guy who is still being investigated for hitting a girl in the face with a class cup, facing a 4 game suspension for drugs, who went on his twitter and both told a fan to kill himself and alluded to him smoking weed…again. But now today Joe is calling Marshall a dirtbag??

The mind reels.

How about a few facts to counteract the vitriol.

Since Marshall’s run ins over domestic violence with one woman who admitted she herself also assaulted him at times, he has gotten married to a totally different woman and there have been no more incidents that anybody knows about. Also Marshall was “suspended” last year because his shithead coach thinks he knows how injured guys are based on his bachelors degree in douchebaggery. Funny because Marshall couldn’t have played anyway according to him because of his hamstring, but his coach McDaniels, who also it seems fell out with everybody’s angel Tom Brady for almost a month and wasn’t on speaking terms while still with the Patriots, felt like he should suspend the guy to “make an example”. I’d like for you to go back and look up the Denver papers and see how many of them called out McDaniels for that bitch move rather than Marshall.

Oh and that “Marshall and his boys” inciting a riot? Total bullshit. They guys who shot his teammates were looking for trouble. In fact earlier in the night according to testimony Marshall played peace keeper to intervene when they were starting trouble and bought them drinks and food so they would knock it off. It wasn’t until the party was over and the same guys were STILL starting trouble that he got pissed and got into a VERBAL I repeate VERBAL altercation with those assholes. And you know what? The situation appeared to be squashed and Marshall went to his own vehicle and the murderers STILL decided to shoot up somebody’s limo, which is how Darrent Williams got killed. So to make it seem as if it was all Marshall’s fault isn’t just bullshit, its damn near libelous.

Look I could care less when people decide to get on their high horse and declare somebody a scumbag. I certainly hope the people doing that are squeaky clean in their own home lives but so be it. But what irritates the hell out of me is moral relativism. If Marshall is a dirtbag and he isnt in any legal trouble at the moment then Santonio Holmes who was also accused of domestic violence and is currently in trouble for DAMN sure is also a dirtbag and the fact that he could be had for a lower draft pick shouldn’t change that.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Are You Really Surprised? Brandon Marshall Edition

According to various media outlets Brandon Marshall has been traded from the Denver Broncos to the Miami dolphins for a 2nd rounder this year and another 2nd rounder next year. For some reason I have a feeling that this will surprise some Buccaneers fans. My question is why should it? It would be different if the Bucs had said anything, ANYTHING in the past few months to give people cause to believe they would really be trading for Marshall. But if you go back and look damn near everything they have said would have you believing the exact opposite. Someone asked me in a live chat on JoeBucsFan last week what the chances were for us getting Marshall and I said Slim and None and Slim just left town. Its not really rocket science folks. At some point fans have to differentiate between what they want the Bucs to do and what is most likely the Bucs WILL do, and that starts with actually listening to what they say rather than what you hope they said.

As Maya Angelou put it, when someone reveals themselves to you, believe them.

Monday, April 12, 2010

On Santonio Holmes

So Santonio Holmes gets traded on Sunday to the Jets for a 5th rounder and the next day quite a few people in the Tampa Bay area started complaining about the Buccaneers not trading for him first. I started to kind of just let it go but I think its best if I make my own personal feelings known on the issue.

First off I am not one of these people who look down their knows at others, or at least I try not to be. So for me its not like I would totally dismiss trading for a guy who had problems. But I will say this, I support the Bucs not trading for Santonio Holmes in this situation. The thing of it is is that over the years Holmes has gotten into trouble repeatedly and he has repeated some of the same mistakes. For instance he got arrested for marijuana possession a few years back, then just last week he got on his twitter and announced to his followers and the world that it was time to "wake and bake" and damn near on the same day word comes out that he is about to serve a 4 game suspension for a violation of the drug policy. That's what you call a pattern.

Do people deserve second chances?

Of course.

Do we have to be the team to be the ones giving Holmes a 4th or 5th chance?

Absolutely not.

If you are looking at it strictly from a business standpoint, why would Coach Morris or Mark Dominick trade for a guy they know is going to miss the first 4 games next year when the truth is if we don't have a decent record after 4 games their jobs might be in jeopardy? Hell by the time Holmes would have touched the field for us their fates might have already been sealed.

Now I fully acknowledge that Holmes is an excellent player but I feel like trading for him right now with the state of our team being as it is would be silly even if it only took a 5th round pick. Its like asking for a PR nightmare.

You may ask well whats the difference between Holmes's situation and Brandon Marshall? Id say pretty much everything. Although Marshall has been in trouble in the past he hasn't been in any off the field trouble lately. He isn't facing a suspension and he would be available from day one. And real talk he is a level above Holmes in my opinion anyway. People have compared Marshall to TO but in my opinion he's TO with much better hands.

There are other reasons that the Bucs really COULDN'T trade for Holmes anyway. First off after they let Antonio Bryant leave via free agency the Bucs tried relentlessly to spin it as a move brought on by Bryant's bad attitude. Unfortunately a lot of fans bought that particular line of bullshit and started really heaping smears on him that I don't think he deserved. I saw on more than one forum fans calling AB a scumbag etc. So how then could the Bucs justify bringing in a guy who has even MORE problems?

Not only that but the Bucs have put SOOOO much focus on their draft up to this point and to hear them tell it every single pick from the 1st rounder to the 7th rounder is going to be a starter and a future all star...or so they hope. And keep in mind that the supposed depth of this draft is the reasoning behind why the Bucs haven't been active in free agency...allegedly. So in that situation a 5th rounder isn't really a fifth rounder anymore. Instead its the potential steal of the draft, a guy who could have gone 1st round in any other year blah blah blah. So for the Bucs to give up said 5th round pick they would have again had to go back and contradict what they have been saying all along. And of course couldn't have that could we?

Last but not least Mike Tomlin and Raheem Morris are very close and there is no doubt in my mind that they at least had a conversation about Holmes and I would kind of lean toward believing whatever was said in that conversation convinced the Coach Morris that it wasn't worth it.

Now we have our share of knuckleheads on the team true enough but we drafted most of them. The truth is the last time we brought in a guy with a questionable background it didn't work out so well for us. Can you say David Boston? And I know people will throw Jeremy Stevens into the mix but the thing to remember is that when he was signed nobody really knew about the rape allegations against him. Instead what we knew about were his run ins with the law over drinking and driving. And it turns out that he ended up serving a suspension after he got here for those issues. Not exactly the kind of thing that would be encouraging the brass to go out and get Holmes.

And please keep in mind that this is a guy who had been in trouble with weed before, got in trouble again this time to earn his 4 game suspension. Who REALLY believes 100% that he won't get in trouble again and get suspended for the whole year?

Not many rational people I suspect.

You know the saying, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. My addition is fool me three times and I'm getting fired.

Its worth noting finally that Holmes will be on the last year of his contract this year. Considering he would be missing a quarter of the season and then be a free agent would it really make sense to trade for him when its obvious you can't sign him right off the bat to a long term deal but on the other hand if you wait till after the season you may lose him to the highest bidder?

Again I think not.

Now the Jets are in a totally different situation than we are. Under Rex Ryan its apparent that they have a win now attitude and they are all about bringing in guys via trade or free agency to accomplish that goal and they will evidently worry about the future later. Now maybe that works for them but its certainly not the approach that the Bucs have been preaching all offseason.

In summary regardless of the ultimate reason why, I think the Bucs were wise to pass on Santonio Holmes.

Just my opinion.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Eagles Are Effing Crazy!

When the news came across the wire last night that the Eagles had traded their franchise quarterback, Donovan McNabb, to their division rivals, the Washington Redskins, I felt sure it was a late April Fools prank. Surely the Eagles organization couldn't have been so brazen as to jettison a guy who had been so critical to their success over the last decade, to a team right up the road from them.....could they?

Well it turns out they could and they did.

After having a night to think on it I believe its time for me to throw around all the reasons I think this moves shows that the Eagles are effing crazy.

1. This move strengthens a division foe: There is no way you can deny that having Donovan McNabb on the roster immediately improves the Redskins' offense. Considering that over the last few years some commentators, not me however, have said that the only thing holding the Skins back was the erratic play of their quarterback Jason Campbell, those same pundits would now have to consider that hole filled.

Not only that but with new head coach Mike Shanahan running the show, you know Donovan will have something he never really had in Philly, a game plan that emphasises running the ball and takes the pressure off of him, literally as well as figuratively. I know some folks question the Skins signing Larry Johnson and Willie Parker to go along with incumbent Clinton Portis, but I would remind those people that Shanahan has historically done more with guys who were a lot less talented. As for the folks who will point to the offensive line as a weakness, I would remind them that

A) The Redskins didn't even have to send the Eagles their first round pick for McNabb so they are still picking #4 in a few weeks and will probably select a big time left tackle with that selection. And

B) The zone blocking scheme that Shanahan prefers doesn't require a bunch of Pro Bowlers to be successful. I asked a question last night for anybody to name the other 4 offensive lineman other than March Schlereth who blocked for Terrell Davis in Denver when he ran for 2000 yards. Several people answered but collectively they only came up with one other name, Tony Jones. Trust me, there's a reason for that and I believe Shanahan will be able to duplicate some of the things he has done in the past in DC this year.

Don't forget the impact that McNabb tends to have on wide receivers too. This is a guy who went to the Superbowl throwing to Freddie Mitchell and Todd Pinkston. Imagine how he might be able to reenergize Santana Moss's career and the connection he might have with Devin Thomas. And that isn't even to speak of Chris Cooley who is already a damned good tight end in his own right. That talent combined with Shanahan's offensive scheme could be a deadly combination.

Oh and as a reminder, the Redskins defense is VERY talented so if they get an offense that can actually score points.....

2. Because the Eagles traded him inside the division, this decision will be scrutinized heavily at least twice a year for as long as he remains in Washington: See its one thing to feel like its time to move on as a franchise, its another to have that decision on full display during the season. If the Eagles had traded McNabb to the Raiders then even if he had a great year it would have been pretty easy to not even notice what with Oakland being all the way cross country and not even being in the same conference. But with trading him to the Skins, fans will get to decide if the Eagles brass were geniuses or dumbasses twice a year. And don't think for a second that McNabb isn't going to try to make a statement in those games. After years of never being fully embraced in Philly even with all of the accomplishments and accolades he garnered, this will be his time to show that team and those fans EXACTLY what they are missing.

Simply put, if the Eagles lose twice to the Skins next year and McNabb decisively outplays his likely replacement in Kevin Kolb both games, is there a way that somebody in the front office doesn't get fired?

I don't think so.

One last note, by trading McNabb in the division then he gets the added benefit of seeing the same defenses and defenders he has seen over the course of his career, along with the defenders and defenses he has played against every week in practice.

3. I said likely starter Kevin Kolb a minute ago because there is one other issue that this trade created that a lot of people aren't focusing on, a quarterback controversy: Now it was pretty apparent last year that Michael Vick was itching to play more. But out of respect for McNabb and the fact that he helped get him the job in Philly Vick kept mum for the most part. But now, with McNabb gone, I can't see a scenario where Vick is happy being a backup to Kolb. Better yet, I can't see a scenario where Vick is quiet about being unhappy being a backup to Kolb. Out of all of the quarterbacks the Eagles could have traded, they got rid of the one guy who might leave a void that creates a divided locker room.

Understand this, there are already guys in the Eagles locker room who feel like either Vick should be the starter or it should be an open competition. Andy Reid coming out and naming Kolb the starter without him having earned it probably will rub some of them the wrong way. So what do you think will happen if training camp starts and Vick out plays Kolb? Even if its only for a few days or for a few big plays. And remember, because starters get limited reps in the preseason it will be relatively easy for Vick to outshine Kolb numbers wise. Will the Eagles then hand the reigns over to Vick potentially pissing off they guy who they believe is their long term answer at quarterback? Or will they stick with Kolb come hell or high water and have the locker room imploding?

Whatever the outcome somebody won't be happy and with two guys who are starting caliber that is pretty much just asking for fireworks.

Now maybe the Eagles are in full rebuilding mode. You can certainly make the case that they are considering how many starters they have lost either by trading them away or releasing them since the season ended. But the timing seems to be off on this one. At the point where they finally get the offensive weapons that McNabb has always coveted is the time when they decide to just give up and start over? And in the process help a division rival get better?

Nothing about this trade makes any rational sense but of course with football you have to let it all play itself out on the field. Still I gotta say that on paper right now, considering how much worse the Eagles look versus how much better the Redskins look, I gotta say the Eagles are effing crazy for trading McNabb.

It is what it is.